38.6c New Delhi, India, Monday, June 17, 2024
Judiciary

Supreme Court upholds abrogation of Article 370, mandates elections in J&K by September 2024 [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      11 December, 2023 04:59 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Upholds Abrogation of Article Mandates Elections in J K by September

NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Monday declared Article 370 granting special status to J&K was a temporary provision, which was abrogated in a valid exercise by the Presidential order.

In a major win for the Narendra Modi government, the apex court upheld the bold and historic decisions of August 5-6, 2019 decisions to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution, which took away special status of a border state, Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

In unanimous decision, the five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India said Article 370 was a feature of asymmetric federalism and not sovereignty.

The top court, however, directed the Election Commission take steps to hold elections in J&K by September 30, 2024. It also directed the Centre to restore full statehood to J&K as soon as possible as assured by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who pronounced his separate decision, recommended for setting up Truth and Reconciliation Commission to alleviate the plights of Kashmiri Pandits who had to migrate from the valley during the 1990s during the height of militancy and terrorism.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna also delivered his separate and concurring judgment.

Justices B R Gavai, and Surya Kant endorsed the lead judgement authored by the CJI holding the Article 370 was temporary provision brought about due to special circumstances and the exercise by the President to recognise the state was valid.

The exercise of the power of President by issuing Presidential order was not mala fide even in the absence of Constituent Assembly, the court said.

The bench said J&K did not retain element of sovereignty when it joined the Union of India, neither did the constitutional set up indicate so. It became an integral part of India as evidenced in Articles 1 and 370 of the Constitution.

The Constitution of India is a complete code which can be applied in the state, it declared.

It held the exercise of the power by the Centre was valid and not mala fide.

The essence of judgment:

a. The State of Jammu and Kashmir does not retain any element of sovereignty after the execution of the IoA and the issuance of the Proclamation dated 25 November 1949 by which the Constitution of India was adopted. The State of Jammu and Kashmir does not have ‘internal  sovereignty’ which is distinguishable from the powers and privileges enjoyed by other States in the country. Article 370 was a feature of asymmetric federalism and not sovereignty;

b. The petitioners did not challenge the issuance of the Proclamations  under Section 92 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Article 356 of the Indian Constitution until the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated. The challenge to the Proclamations does not merit adjudication because the principal challenge is to the actions which were taken after the Proclamation was issued;

c. The exercise of power by the President after the Proclamation under Article 356 is issued is subject to judicial review. The exercise of power by the President must have a reasonable nexus with the object of the Proclamation. The person challenging the exercise of power must prima facie establish that it is a mala fide or extraneous exercise of power. Once a prima facie case is made, the onus shifts to the Union to justify the exercise of such power;

d. The power of Parliament under Article 356(1)(b) to exercise the powers of the Legislature of the State cannot be restricted to law-making power thereby excluding non-law making power of the Legislature of the State. Such an interpretation would amount to reading in a limitation into the provision contrary to the text of the Article;

e. It can be garnered from the historical context for the inclusion of Article 370 and the placement of Article 370 in Part XXI of the Constitution that it is a temporary provision;

f. The power under Article 370(3) did not cease to exist upon the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. When the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, only the transitional power recognised in the proviso to Article 370(3) which empowered the Constituent Assembly to make its recommendations ceased to exist. It did not affect the power held by the President under Article 370(3);

g. Article 370 cannot be amended by exercise of power under Article 370(1)(d). Recourse must have been taken to the procedure contemplated by Article 370(3) if Article 370 is to cease to operate or is to be amended or modified in its application to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Paragraph 2 of CO 272 by which Article 370 was amended through Article 367 is ultra vires Article 370(1)(d) because it modifies Article 370, in effect, without following the procedure prescribed to modify Article 370. An interpretation clause cannot be used to bypass the procedure laid down for amendment;

h. The exercise of power by the President under Article 370(1)(d) to issue CO 272 is not mala fide. The President in exercise of power under Article 370(3) can unilaterally issue a notification that Article 370 ceases to exist. The President did not have to secure the concurrence of the Government of the State or Union Government acting on behalf of the State Government under the second proviso to Article 370(1)(d) while applying all the provisions of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir because such an exercise of power has the same effect as an exercise of power under Article 370(3) for which the concurrence or collaboration with the State Government was not required;

i. Paragraph 2 of CO 272 issued by the President in exercise of power under Article 370(1)(d) applying all the provisions of the Constitution of India to the State of Jammu and Kashmir is valid. Such an exercise of power is not mala fide merely because all the provisions were applied together without following a piece-meal approach;

j. The President had the power to issue a notification declaring that Article 370(3) ceases to operate without the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly. The continuous exercise of power under Article 370(1) by the President indicates that the gradual process of constitutional integration was ongoing. The declaration issued by the President under Article 370(3) is a culmination of the process of integration and as such is a valid exercise of power. Thus, CO 273 is valid;

k. The Constitution of India is a complete code for constitutional governance. Following the application of the Constitution of India in its entirety to the State of Jammu and Kashmir by CO 273, the Constitution of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is inoperative and is declared to have become redundant; and

l. The views of the Legislature of the State under the first proviso to Article 3 are recommendatory. Thus, Parliament’s exercise of power under the first proviso to Article 3 under the Proclamation was valid and not mala fide.
m. The Solicitor General stated that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir will be restored (except for the carving out of the Union Territory of Ladakh). In view of the statement we do not find it necessary to determine whether the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir is permissible under Article 3. However. we uphold the validity of the decision to carve out the Union Territory of Ladakh in view of Article 3(a) read with Explanation I which permits forming a Union Territory by separation of a territory from any State.

n. We direct that steps shall be taken by the Election Commission of India to conduct elections to the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir constituted under Section 14 of the Reorganisation Act by 30 September 2024. Restoration of statehood shall take place at the earliest and as soon as possible.

 

[Read Judgment]



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